Public Health Groups Urge Congress… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Public Health Groups Urge Congress to Include FDA Tobacco Authority in Final FSC Bill

537 Groups Nationwide Endorse FDA Legislation Statement of American Cancer Society, American Heart Association American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
September 29, 2004

Washington, DC — The House of Representatives today appointed its conferees on the FSC/ETI bill, clearing the way for negotiations on a final bill. Our public health organizations urge the conferees in the strongest possible terms to ensure that the final bill includes the legislation approved by the Senate to grant the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strong and effective authority over tobacco products.

Only a handful of House members are standing in the way of including FDA tobacco authority in the final bill, despite the fact that FDA authority enjoys the strong support of the American people, the public health community and clear majorities in Congress. That small minority is also jeopardizing the tobacco buyout because the buyout lacks public or Congressional support unless it is linked with FDA authority.

The FDA legislation presents a truly historic opportunity to protect our children from tobacco addiction and save lives. If members of Congress want to know why we need FDA regulation of tobacco now, they just have to look at the tobacco industry’s latest ploy to addict our children by marketing candy-flavored cigarettes, such as R.J. Reynolds’ Kauai Kolada (“Hawaiian hints of pineapple and coconut”) and Twista Lime (“a citrus tiki taste sensation!”). Without FDA authority, the tobacco companies will continue to target our children and mislead consumers about their deadly products. Surely Congress will not let this opportunity pass to protect our kids from tobacco.

Previous votes indicate that strong majorities in both the Senate and the House will support final legislation that includes FDA tobacco authority and a tobacco buyout paid by tobacco companies. The Senate voted 78 to 15 on July 15 to pass the DeWine-Kennedy-McConnell amendment to the FSC bill that included both FDA authority and an industry-funded buyout. The FDA provisions accounted for most of these votes. While the House included a taxpayer-funded buyout in its version of the FSC bill, the House subsequently adopted an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations bill that prohibits the implementation of a taxpayer-funded buyout. Many supporters of the House amendment made it clear they were prepared to support final legislation that included both FDA authority and an industry-funded buyout.

The public health community strongly supports FDA authority over tobacco. Today, we are releasing a list of 537 national, state and local organizations that have endorsed the DeWine-Kennedy FDA bill (click here to view the list). These organizations are from every state and represent the public health community, the medical community, advocates for children and many others. This is the broadest, strongest and most diverse coalition ever to come together in support of legislation to address the tobacco problem in our country.

The public strongly supports FDA authority over tobacco. A poll conducted in June found that 69 percent of registered voters nationwide support FDA authority. Support is even greater for specific provisions of the legislation, such as restricting tobacco marketing aimed at children (83 percent support), requiring the reduction or removal of harmful ingredients from tobacco products (73 percent support), and preventing tobacco companies from making claims that some products are less harmful than others unless the FDA determines those claims are true (78 percent support). Even in the six leading tobacco-growing states, 65 percent of voters support FDA tobacco authority, while only 29 percent support a tobacco buyout, according to another poll conducted August 30-September 1. In both tobacco and non-tobacco states, the buyout lacks public support unless it is linked to FDA authority.

The need for FDA authority over tobacco is clear. Tobacco use is the nation’s leading preventable cause of death, killing more than 400,000 people and costing our nation more than $75 billion in health care costs each year. Every day, another 2,000 kids become regular smokers – one-third of them will die prematurely as a result. Yet tobacco products are exempt from the FDA’s regulations to protect health and safety.

Members of Congress face a clear choice: Will they protect our kids and health, or will they allow the tobacco companies free reign to continue targeting our children and misleading consumers? The time is now to stand up for kids and health by enacting into law the Senate-approved legislation to grant the FDA authority over tobacco products.